Saturday, November 8, 2014
Big Hero 6 Movie Review
In the futuristic city San Fransokyo, a young genius named Hiro Hamada is inspired to join his older brother Tadashi as a student a prestigious robotics department, run by famed professor Robert Callaghan. Hiro is inspired, in part, by his brother’s invention – an inflatable, personalized health-care robot named Baymax. However, an explosion in the university takes the life of Hiro’s brother, leaving Hiro depressed and disinterested in technology. An interaction with Tadashi’s robot compels Hiro to resume his training, and also reminds him that Tadashi is still with him, in his memory (a similar theme of remembering those you’ve lost is present in another recent release, The Book of Life). Through his work, Hiro makes friends with Tadashi’s former colleagues – and with Baymax; together, they work to uncover the mysterious cause of the explosion that claimed Tadashi’s life.
The Adoption Connection
Hiro is familiar with loss in his family. Both of parents died before the movie, and he and Tadashi are being raised by Aunt Cass, the single sister of one of their parents who lives above her coffee shop. When Tadashi dies, Aunt Cass is the only family that Hiro has, until he eventually finds a connection with Tadashi through Baymax’s programming.
The short film before Big Hero 6, “Feast” is a truly funny piece on love, centered on food, from a dog’s point of view. The theater I was in laughed, in unison, several times at this one.
Aunt Cass is very loving. Even when she is frustrated at Tadashi and Hiro—they had gotten arrested – she still affirms that she loves them.
Tadashi is a committed big brother. He guides Hiro into making good decisions, and also affirms that, even if Hiro makes bad decisions, he won’t leave him alone.
Hiro recovers from a very hard loss in a very realistic way. After Tadashi’s death, Hiro exhibits understandable and realistic depression, and finally recovers through the love of family and friends, memories of his brother, and his own efforts. He can provide a model of recovery from loss. At one point, Hiro even faces the loss of his brother in order to explain it – sensitively and sadly, but honestly – to Baymax. Hiro tells Baymax that Tadashi is gone. Baymax asks when he will return. Hiro replies, “He’s dead, Baymax.” Baymax comments that Tadashi was healthy and should have lived a long time. Hiro answers, “People say he’s not really gone as long as we remember him, but it still hurts.” It’s a very honest and direct discussion of death, loss, and sadness. Baymax calls several of Hiro’s friends in an effort to help Hiro find happiness.
Because he reflects Tadashi’s personality, Baymax is selfless and heroic. This inspires Hiro to be a forgiving person.
A theme that shows up in lots of movies is – how do you respond to loss? Hiro is tempted towards revenge, but ultimately is persuaded away. Meanwhile, another character pursues revenge and suffers because of it.
Baymax is willing to sacrifice himself to save a stranger’s life, and for a while it seems as though Hiro has lost even him. I wondered if that scene might be empowering – here, Hiro had the choice of whether to experience the loss, and he willingly chose loss in order to save someone.
** SPOILER ALERT ** Thankfully, at the end, this loss is reversed.
Professor Callaghan’s revelation as a villain is unforeseen; he had seemed like a potential mentor/father figure at one point.
The explosion that kills Tadashi is loud, bright, and unexpected. It could be hard for young kids who have come to love him or identify with him as a caring older male relative.
There is a scene with more chaos and destruction than you’d expect. Callaghan tries to destroy an industrial complex by sucking it into a portal. This leads to the film’s climactic battle. It’s a good sequence, though it might scare some young children.
Big Hero 6 is a fun, action-oriented film that will appeal to a wide audience, from kids to adults. Although the losses experienced by Hiro might painfully remind some viewers of losses they’ve experienced (through foster or adoption), Hiro’s processing of his losses are realistic and healthy. Big Hero 6 gets the Adoption at the Movies recommendation for kids ages 7 and up, with the suggestion that parents watch and process the film with their kids.
Questions for Discussion
How did Hiro feel when Tadashi died? How did he act?
Is it possible to still be sad about a loss, and also to be feeling better, at the same time?
If your friends were superheroes, what would their superhero names be?
Have you ever wanted revenge on someone? How did it turn out? How did you feel at the end?